2021 ‘Red (Taylor’s Version)’ illustrates drastic improvement from its original 2012 version


Beth Garrabrant

‘Red: Taylor’s Version’ album cover pictures Swift in her signature red lipstick.

Audrey Matei, Content Manager

On Nov. 12, 2021, Taylor Swift released her second re-recorded album, “Red (Taylor’s Version),” which  includes all 20 tracks written for her 2012 album, “Red (Deluxe Edition)” with the inclusion of a “Ronan,” a single released in 2012 for charity, and nine new songs that were scrapped from the original release.  This re-recording is a part of her plan to own the masters of her first six studio albums after she was denied to buy them from her former label in 2019.

“Red (Taylor’s Version)” feels like an improved cut of the original album with high-quality songs that extend the themes of  2012’s “Red” with cleaner, more mature vocals.

Longer albums often fall into the traps of repetitiveness and subpar quality. However, the majority of the nine new songs for this album sound fresh and fully-worked. For example, “Nothing New,” a melancholy guitar ballad, includes themes of anxiety in growing up and losing your appeal, “Message in a Bottle” is a fun dance pop song, and “I Bet You Think About Me” is a snarky upbeat country song mocking an ex-lover. With the exception of “Run,” each unreleased song brings fresh ideas and themes to “Red” while maintaining the melodramatic and sometimes jarring environment the original Red created. 

Also, vocal and writing quality is consistently improved in the cut. In an extended version of what many call Swift’s best song, “All Too Well,” lyrics that were initially scrapped like “You kept me like a secret, but I kept you like an oath, Sacred prayer and we’d swear, To remember it all too well” and “And did the twin flame bruise paint you blue? Just between us, did the love affair maim you, too?” are included, adding depth to the story in a way that makes listeners wonder why she would leave that out in the first place. Her voice on the record is much fuller and more mature, which is especially noticeable on “The Last Time” and “State of Grace.”However, this album has a few pitfalls with its overwhelming success. In her re-recording of “We are Never Ever Getting Back Together” the background vocals feel pitched too high and slightly uncomfortable and the vault track “Run” feels like a worse version of “Everything Has Changed,” both being guitar ballads featuring Ed Sheeran. 

Generally, “Red (Taylor’s Version)” turns a classic album even better, creating anticipation for how she’ll perform on the four other albums she intends to re-record and starting conversation on artist’s rights to own their music.